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Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the estimated cost to his Department of unauthorised personal calls made by members of staff to (a) domestic numbers and (b) international numbers was in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire of 9 December 2004, Official Report, column 664W, on pensions, what the proportions are in each (a) region and (b) local authority area in Scotland. 
in each local
authority or Region
|Percentage of relevant population in each local authority or Region||Population|
in each local
authority or Region
|Percentage of relevant population in each local authority or Region|
|Argyll and Bute||5,800||78.6||6,400||49.1|
|The Scottish Boarders||7,900||89.6||7,700||50.3|
|Dumfries and Galloway||10,900||85.5||10,300||47.3|
|City of Edinburgh||23,700||86.5||25,300||48.9|
|Perth and Kinross||10,600||97.1||8,700||45.6|
|Comhairle nan Eilean Siar||1,300||58.5||1,600||40.6|
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many video conferencing units are installed in (a) the Department and (b) each agency of the Department; what percentage of offices have these
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1308W
facilities in each case; and what plans there are to increase the number. 
|Business/agency||Number of buildings||Number of|
VC units installed
|Number of buildings|
with VC unit installed
buildings with facilities
|Disability and carers service||15||17||9||60|
|The appeals services||33||15||12||36|
|The pensions service||102||61||41||40|
|Corporate and shared services||109||80||37||34|
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of eligible people who have not received backdated winter fuel payments for the first three years of the scheme, broken down by region. 
Malcolm Wicks: It is not possible to estimate with confidence how many people were eligible for backdated payments for the first three years of the scheme. Our working assumption was that about 1.9 million people could have been eligible of whom about 1.2 million have now been paid. There is no cut off date for these retrospective payments.
(4) how much money was spent by his Department on people with asthma and allied disorders in the last year for which figures are available; and what proportion this was of his Department's budget; 
Dr. Ladyman: Most people with asthma receive an excellent service from their general practitioner, including advice on self-management and, where necessary, appropriate medicines. The GP may also refer patients to hospital for specialist investigation and treatment.
Asthma is the most chronic disease in the United Kingdom. Accurate data for numbers affected are difficult to obtain. From the Office of National Statistics General Practice Database 1996 it was estimated that 6.7 per cent. of men and 6.9 per cent. of women in England and Wales were treated for asthma, about 3.5 million people.
In 200304, the last year for which data are available, there were about 13,431,000 first outpatient appointments, 5,448,000 elective hospital admissions and 15,313,000 new accident and emergency attendances at national health service hospitals. In 2002, the last year for which data are available, there were about 241 million appointments with GPs. In addition, patients received advice and, in some cases, treatment in NHS walk-in centres, through NHS Direct and community pharmacies. It is not possible to derive from the estimates how many individuals were involved, or to estimate what proportion of all contacts with the NHS included advice and treatment for a specific condition, or to estimate what proportion of the total NHS budget is involved.
Under the new primary medical care contracting arrangements a unique step has been taken in using indicators and information management across specific chronic disease areas, including asthma, to deliver improved outcomes for patients.
New primary medical care contracting arrangements provide primary care trusts with enormous potential to improve the quality and access to a wider range of services for patients. It centres on a comprehensive quality and outcomes framework. This is like a national service framework, covering the whole of primary care, with substantial financial incentives attached, and constitutes the single biggest investment in quality care in the NHS. Lives will be saved through effective chronic disease management of specific conditions, like heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma.
The main agency through which the Government supports medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology. The MRC
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1310W
spent some £12.6 million on asthma research in the four years from 19992000 to 200203. Information for the years 199798 and 199899 is not available.
The Department funds research to support policy and to provide the evidence needed to underpin quality improvement and service development in the NHS. In the six years from 199798 to 200304, the Department's national research programmes spent £9 million on projects related to asthma.
Over 75 per cent., of the Department's total expenditure on health research is devolved to and managed by NHS organisations. From this funding, the NHS reported spending in support of respiratory diseases as follows:
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